If you're even half the nerd that I am you might eventually have wondered what's inside your notebook, where the irritating noise of a fan suddenly came from when watching Youtube vids, and very maybe you might have wondered why your notebook sometimes gets so hot! I'm a bit being sarcastic here as I perfectly know most of our readers indeed do understand what's going on inside the metal or plastic housing, yet still what's there to do when temps keep on rising? Notebook coolers to the rescue! Todays we'll be having a look at one of the more performant notebook coolers you'll stumble against upon your search for the perfect solution, or did we just find it four you? Read on!
Temp & noise test + conclusive thoughts
A notebook cooler review would have been worth nothing without a decent heat test. I've used the Coolermaster Storm SF-19 Strike Force in combo with my Acer Aspire 5630 notebook which sports an Intel 945GM integrated videocard and Intel T5500 processor clocked at 1.66GHz. Because the videocard isn't really a powerhouse I used the latest version of prime95 (which supports multi-threading) to fully load the cpu. I ran this heat load test for roughly half an hour per cooler and afterwards let it all cool down again for half an hour. I compared the Coolermaster SF-19 against a Sunbeamtech Notepal notebook cooler which we've been reviewing earlier.
Do not pay to much attention to the first 10 minutes as the onboard fan can sometimes act really strange. You can see the cpu temp rising over time where in the last ten minutes it has more or less found equilibrium. Next up is a graph which uses the the last ten results and calculates the average temperature out of it.
The Coolermaster SF-19 aggressively improves the cpu temperature above stock cooling, note that on stock cooling I could not even complete the test! You may have noticed this yourself in the first chart where the purple line hits 95°C after roughly 600s (10 minutes). At full fan speed temps stayed well under 80°C during load, and even at minimum fan speed the SF-19 has no problem beating the Sunbeamtech notebook cooler at highest speed. Concerning the small intake you could probable even score better figures with your own notebook. The huge lead over the Sunbeamtech product is no surprise on the one hand as there is quite a difference in fan size and speed, but what about the noise levels?
The Coolermaster Storm may easily claim the title of being the best performing, there is however a huge drawback noise wise. Even with the fans on lowest speed you can easily hear them and when you turn up the fan speed things get really bad. Even halfway the turning wheel you'll be hearing the fans over your music player, at full speed you'd better be wearing headphones otherwise you'll get sick of the background noise pretty quick. On one hand it's good that you have the option to unleash a tornado inside your portable, on the other hand I'd love to see the option to turn down fan speed even further into the Sunbeamtech Notepal territory because even then you'll get a decent temperature drop while noise wise you won't notice much over your regular notebook fan.
The Coolermaster Storm SF-19 Strike Force is quite the notebook cooler. It supports up to 19" notebook which makes it large and unhandy to carry if not you'd have the handy carrying handle crafted out of rubber. Overall it is a well designed and decent build laptop accessory, fan can be changed and alter in speed and eventually be turned off. As with most products intended for gamers you get fancy LEDs which you can now change the color from, 7 to chose from or you could just put them all into loop. You'll also get an extra USB3.0 ready hub and a way to have a decent cable management.
The carrying handle, the replaceable fans, USB3.0 readiness, fancy LEDs and off course its huge cooling power are the most important positive thoughts I'll keep in mind whenever looking back at this product. But there is also second face to this. As high cooling power goes hand in hand with higher noise levels, there is nothing different here. At 2600 rpm the noise tops out over the radio mostly playing in my living room and even with the fan speed set to lowest there is a noticeable amount of noise. Considering the fans can easily be reached by taking out the center panel on the back I would have also liked to have a dust filter, certainly when you look at the price of product. I'd also ditch the AC adapter if I were in Coolermaster's place, but considering the use of such powerful fans I guess there is no other option.
Last but not least, the Coolermaster SF-19 comes with a premium price tag of roughly € 70 for the USB 2.0 version where the USB 3.0 version (the one we reviewed) will cost you roughly € 99. At these prices it is hard to justify the Coolermaster Storm SF-19 Strike Force over any other notebook cooler which costs 3 times less. If you're out for a decent temperature drop and you absolutely want the best and money is no problem to you then this may become your next purchase, other wise I'd look out for one of the lower priced brands/models.
That's it for today, before I leave you I'd also like to include a movie a made during the night to show of some of the LED affects. And with that I'd also like to thank Coolermaster for supplying us with this review sample. Until next Time!